The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition inspires Southeast Alaskans and supports community organizations working toward the wise management of our region’s watersheds.
Field Notes - Spring 2019
Updates from SAWC & our partners in Southeast Alaska's communities:
Friends of the Pat Creek Watershed Gather to Share Collaborative Stewardship Efforts in Wrangell;
SAWC moving forward with fish habitat enhancement project this summer:
In early March, SAWC and the Wrangell Cooperative Association hosted a community meeting in Wrangell to share collaborative stewardship efforts underway on Wrangell's Pat Creek watershed. Community members learned about ongoing projects within the watershed, and shared their priorities, concerns, and interests in keeping this valued community resource healthy and accessible for generations to come.

The Wrangell Cooperative Association I-GAP Environmental Program shared their efforts to clean up illegal waste dumping sites throughout the Pat Creek valley over the last several years. Their efforts have led to a significant reduction in refuse deposited throughout the watershed. WCA has also conducted shellfish sampling and monitoring at the tidelands at the mouth of Pat Creek to ensure this local harvest site is safe for use by subsistence shellfish harvesters.

SAWC shared efforts to assess fish and wildlife habitat within the Pat Creek watershed. We also discussed design concepts and plans to implement a fish habitat restoration project within the stream this summer. This project will place large wood structures in a section of the West Fork of Pat Creek to improve functional habitat for the many salmon and resident trout species that utilize this watershed.

An interview and news piece on the project can be found here , via KSTK FM in Wrangell.
Building Bridges to Help People and Fish in Juneau
SAWC is working with several partners to help people walk over streams and fish to swim under trails in two Juneau watersheds.
 
With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s 5-Star Urban Waters Program, we’re teaming up with Juneau International Airport to reconstruct two footbridges over Jordan Creek. The footbridges are located in the Lower Jordan Creek Greenbelt, one of the last patches of green space in this densely urbanized part of the watershed. 

The greenbelt is located on airport property on the north side of the airport parking lot. An existing trail system in the greenbelt connects the airport with the Extended Stay Hotel, the Airport Shopping Center, Nugget Mall, and low-income housing units at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (a project partner). Airport field crews will replace two footbridges that are old and in disrepair and remove a third footbridge that is obsolete this spring. The crews will also give the trails a new gravel surface and install much-need trash cans. These upgrades are part of a larger recreation and habitat enhancement project in the greenbelt that involves Trout Unlimited volunteers, City and Borough of Juneau Parks and Recreation staff, and the local nature-based education organization Discovery Southeast.

A footbridge over lower Jordan Creek will be reconstructed this spring as part of a recreation and habitat enhancement project led by SAWC
When trees fall into streams, salmon are happy. These trees, known as large woody debris, provide overhead cover for fish and create pools where salmon can rest, feed, and take refuge from swift currents and predators. Where streamside trees have been cut down for timber, millions of dollars have been spent placing trees back into salmon streams using heavy machinery and helicopters. 

In Juneau’s Switzer Creek, SAWC is actually removing trees from the stream to help salmon. Decades ago, a logging road was built over a small tributary to Switzer Creek that is home to coho salmon and Dolly Varden Char. Instead of building a bridge or installing a metal culvert, the road builders placed three hollow logs in the stream and covered them up with rock and gravel. Today, the rotten logs are in danger of collapsing and small waterfalls at the outlets block or impede fish seeking feeding, overwintering, or spawning habitat upstream. This spring SAWC will work with a local contractor to remove the logs, create a stream channel across the road, and construct a wooden footbridge over the stream. When it’s all done, salmon and char will enjoy unobstructed access to important habitat. SAWC thanks the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Alaska Brewing Company, and Patagonia Company for financially supporting this project. 
Watershed Science
Ketchikan BEACH Monitoring
SAWC will be partnering with Ketchikan Indian Community and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation to monitor recreational beaches near Ketchikan during the summer of 2019. In past years, elevated bacteria levels, which can be a health concern, have been measured in many locations. This is the third year of monitoring, funded through Alaska Beach Grant Program. Look for project updates and new data this summer!
Fish Creek estuary dredge pond habitat assessment with ADF&G
Above: From L to R: Jesse Lundgren (ADFG), Greg Albrecht (ADFG), Rebecca Bellmore (SAWC), and Rob Cadmus (SAWC) take elevation measurements to compare the pond surface to the tidal water and Fish Creek (January 2019).
Below: Greg Albrecht (ADFG) takes water quality readings through a hole in the ice (January 2019).
SAWC is coordinating with the Habitat Biologists at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to explore the potential for habitat enhancement in an isolated dredge pond in the Fish Creek estuary near Douglas, AK. The pond has steep banks that provide little shallow water habitat and surface water connectivity with Fish Creek is very limited. Despite this, the pond is currently home to many stickleback and even a few juvenile Coho salmon, is an important habitat for Western Toads, and its insects and fish provide food for bats and birds. We assessed water quality and trapped fish in December, and visited the pond again in March to measure dissolved oxygen after the pond had been frozen for several months. Dissolved oxygen concentrations were generally high during both periods, and we found no evidence of subsurface saltwater mixing, suggesting the pond may have the potential to provide good overwintering habitat for fish. We’ll continue to monitor water quality and hydrology, compile information about wildlife use of the pond, and assess the appropriateness and feasibility of a habitat enhancement project in the area.
Stream Temperature Monitoring Network Final Implementation Plan
Existing stream temperature monitoring locations. The numbers used to label each point correspond with the watershed number column in Appendix B of the Implementation Plan.
SAWC is pleased to release the  Southeast Alaska Freshwater Monitoring Network Implementation Plan. The Implementation Plan explains why the network is important, reviews existing monitoring sites, lays out a sampling plan for the future, and outlines short- and long-term goals for the network.  The strategic sampling plan addresses the need for long-term data, monitoring of culturally important sites, and filling in gaps in the types of systems that are monitored so that we can have a more robust understanding of stream temperature patterns and trends, and their drivers. Organizations that are monitoring stream temperature can learn more about the network on our  website and sign onto the network via a Memorandum of Understanding.
Moby Journeys to Sitka in 2019
After winter hibernation, Moby the Mobile Greenhouse will be jumping back onto the ferry this spring to its new home for the 2019 growing season. Pacific High School of Sitka will be hosting the greenhouse classroom on wheels from February until October this year. The greenhouse will be an exciting addition to the school’s strong food system program that empowers students at this alternative high school to gain hands-on knowledge and skills for growing vegetables. The garden program complements PHS’s programs that also provide opportunities for youth to learn the skills for harvesting and stewarding subsistence foods provided by the land and water of their rainforest home. 

Under the leadership of principal Mandy Summer and the guidance of social worker and summer garden instructor Maggie Gallin, Moby will be cared for by students at Pacific High who will also mentor young gardeners at Baranof Elementary School. Additional partners include the Sitka Conservation Society’s Americorps member who leads the school’s culinary program to prepare school meals. Sitka Tribe and the US Forest Service are additional partners involved in cultivating Tlingit potatoes and sharing the stories and cultural importance of this quintessential Southeast vegetable. The greenhouse will extend the growing season for the school gardens and be a source of vegetables for school meals. It is hoped that the traveling greenhouse will prepare the school for a larger, permanent greenhouse and demonstration space for other educators and schools from around SEAK to visit and be inspired to develop similar programming in their own communities. 
The 2019 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit energizes food producers in Sitka
Over 120 people from 19 communities attended the 2019 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit in Sitka. This is the third bi-annual gathering that was started by commercial farmers and producers created this opportunity for farmers and gardeners from across the region and beyond to share their experiences, learn new skills, and connect with each other to energize their efforts and strengthen self-sufficiency and food security in region. 

Friday’s event began with presentations by Southeast Alaska farmers who provided a snapshot of their operations in the region. Saturday and Sunday featured additional farm presentations as well as invited guest speakers who covered topics such as composting, cover crops, pest management, apprentices and interns, food safety, marketing, and more. 

Many hands make light work and the event would not have been possible without strong partnering organizations in Sitka, including the Sitka Local Foods Network and the Sitka Conservation Society. Sponsors from Juneau, Sitka, and beyond generously contributed monetary and local food items to support meals at the summit.  A big thanks to our Farmers Summit committee for dedicating their time and hard work to planning the summit: Marja Smets, Bo Varsano, Andrea Fraga, Joe Orsi, Laura Schmidt, Colin Peacock, and Lia Heifetz.

To see more about the Summit, including links to stories, photos, program, and a full list of partners, sponsors, and volunteers, please visit the Salt and Soil webpage,  https://www.saltandsoilmarketplace.com/thanks-to-our-sponsors-and-partners
The 3rd Year of the Salt & Soil Marketplace Brings New Growth to Southeast Alaska
2018 was, once again, a record-breaking and remarkable year for Salt & Soil. When we first envisioned the marketplace we had no idea we would be open year-round and so incredibly busy even in the depths of winter. It is almost every week that a new vendor signs up with us to start selling.
 
We now have just over 100 vendors who have sold with us, and 455 customers who have bought a product as of today. During the 2019 Farmers Summit, several of our vendors mentioned how useful the online farmers market is to help sell their products in a reliable and affordable way that can benefit Southeast Alaska food producers and consumer. We have also seen several businesses grow out of testing products showing the market's value as a small business incubator (especially with the added help of Path 2 Prosperity hosted by Spruce Root Community Development). We have sold over 10,000 units of products since starting. The majority of which have been lettuce, potatoes, seafood, and frozen bake at home pastries. We just hit $100k in gross revenue, approximately $80,000 of which is going to our vendors.
 
At the rate at which we are growing we had to bring on more help and in 2019 we start the year off with our first hire. The winter was incredibly busy and we are grateful to have Meghan Stangeland (pictured) join the team as our new distribution manager. This capacity will allow us to be ready for what we imagine will be a record breaking summer season in 2019.
Juneau Spring Cleanup Scheduled for April 20th!
The annual Juneau community-wide spring clean-up of public lands, roadways, sidewalks, beaches, wetlands, and trails will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Trash bag distribution sites are stationed around the community and anyone can join us in picking up trash. Local contractors volunteer their time and trucks to take the collected waste to the landfill. Last year we hauled over 30,000 pounds of trash to the landfill.  

The spring cleanup is sponsored by Litter Free Juneau, and SAWC will be staffing a bag distribution site a the Duck Creek Market and organizing parties to clean up Duck Creek and Jordan Creek. 
Action plan for Klawock Lake Sockeye
Addressing the Red Pipe culverts at the Klawock Hollis Highway’s crossing of Threemile Creek is a priority action for Klawock Lake Sockeye Salmon.
Sockeye salmon from Klawock Lake have been important to people for thousands of years. Despite past restoration efforts, it is evident that abundance over the last two decades is significantly less than historical values. 

With support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, Klawock Cooperative Association, Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership, and many other stakeholders, the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition has contracted with Kai Environmental to develop a Klawock Lake Sockeye Community Action Plan.  Through a series of facilitated meetings and consultations with experts and stakeholders, Kai Environmental’s Cathy Needham is identifying the highest priority actions to provide healthy and sustainable sockeye salmon for the community of Klawock. Further, those involved are working collaboratively to move these high priority projects forward.  Several important actions are already taking place, such as predation studies, habitat assessments, and genetic testing of commercially caught fish.  SAWC has also contributed to the effort by conducting an analysis of past restoration projects and helping identify the next steps for habitat assessment and restoration.  

Thanks to all of the many agencies, non-profits, and community members that have helped advance the action plan for Klawock Lake Sockeye, which will likely be released this spring.
Fish Trivia Brings Marine Science Education to Haines
Each week the Takshanuk Watershed Council and Haines Borough Public Library partner to bring hands-on fisheries and marine science education to the Haines School during the Fish Trivia program. Students get to examine a new sea creature, learn about its habitat, and sometimes touch and even sample a taste of the weeks’ sea creature while answering the weekly trivia question. This programs aims to introduce students to the fishy world around them and instill a sense of wonder and appreciation of our local sea creatures.
Wrangell Area Watersheds Assessment Maps Local Resources & Restoration Opportunities

The purpose of this assessment was to compile a dataset and report outlining key aquatic resources within the City and Borough of Wrangell, including an assessment of the current habitat condition of key aquatic resources, identification of sites that could benefit from restoration treatment, and outlining watershed management challenges and opportunities.

The community of Wrangell and its surrounding area are directly connected to and impacted by the health of its watershed resources. Maritime industry, local public health, and subsistence lifestyles are all directly tied to the natural resources of this area. The proper management and conservation of these resources will bolster the health of Wrangell’s community, economy, and public health for years to come.

This project was carried out with financial and technical support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program, in partnership with the Wrangell Cooperative Association, and the US Forest Service, and with financial support from the Charlotte Martin Foundation.
SAWC is greatly appreciative to all of the funders, partners, and stakeholders, and that helped to make this project possible.